Monday, April 30, 2012

God has reserved for Himself the business of your salvation

At the betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane when the crowd comes out against Jesus with swords and clubs, the disciples want to do something. They still want to do their bit for God. They want to take up the sword and risk their lives, perhaps, and fight. One of them grasps a sword and cuts off the ear of one of the assailants. But Jesus will have none of it: ‘Put up your sword,’ he says, ‘for there is absolutely nothing you can do!’ In Luke’s account, Jesus even stretches out his hand to undo what the disciple had done – he heals the wounded man. At that point, no doubt, everything within us cries out in protest along with the disciples. Is there nothing we can do? Could we not at least perhaps stage a protest march on God’s behalf? Could we not seek, perhaps, an interview with Pilate? Could we not try to influence the ‘power structures’? Something – however small? But the unrelenting answer comes back, ‘No, there is nothing you can do, absolutely nothing. If there were something to be done, my Father would send legions of angels to fight!’ But there is nothing to be done. And when it finally came to that last and bitter moment, when these good ‘righteous’ men finally realized that there was nothing they could do, they forsook him and fled.

Can you see it? Can you see that hidden in these very words, these very events, is that death itself which you fear so much is coming to meet you? When they finally saw there was nothing they could do they forsook him and fled before this staggering truth. You, who presume to do business with God, can you see it? Can you see that this death of self is not, in the final analysis, something you can do? For the point is that God has once and for all reserved for himself the business of your salvation. There is nothing you can do now but, as the words of the old hymn have it, ‘climb Calvary’s mournful mountain’ and stand with your helpless arms at your side and tremble before ‘that miracle of time, God’s own sacrifice complete! It is finished; hear him cry; learn of Jesus Christ to die!’

At the cross, God has stormed the last bastion of the self, the last presumption that you really were going to do something for him…He has died in your place! He has done it. He made it. It is all over, finished, between you and God! He died in your place that death which you must die; he has done it in such a way as to save you. He has borne the whole thing! The fact that there is nothing left for you to do is the death of self and the birth of the new creature.

--Gerhard Forde

Sunday, April 29, 2012

More important to be loved than to love?

The real [dichotomy] in the American Church is not conservatives, liberals, fundamentalists, charismatics, but it’s the aware and the unaware. To live in the awareness of God’s love, maintain a calm in the presence of pressure, and not be shattered by a word of criticism. This sounds crazy but it’s more important to be loved than to love. Because when you don’t have the experience of being loved then ministry becomes a chore, an obligation, you can become resentful, which easily leads to burnout and leaving the ministry. The impostor is the slick, sick, and subtle impersonator of my true self… who wants only to be liked, admired, approved, accepted, to fit in. It’s a point of maturity in your life to accept the impostor, because it’s a part of my real self. And if I cannot accept the impostor and all the falseness and all the phoniness, all the pretense, and all the game-playing the impostor goes through, then I can never really accept myself… as a man of strengths and weaknesses, virtues and vices, a broken man who’s desperately in need of a Savior.

--Brennan Manning, The Imposter, sermon notes.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Only the stripes of Jesus heal us, not our repentance

Do you inquire, "Is there anything for us to do, to remove the guilt of sin?" I answer: There is nothing whatever for you to do. By the stripes of Jesus we are healed. All those stripes he has endured, and left not one of them for us to bear. "But must we not believe on him?" Ay, certainly. If I say of a certain ointment that it heals, I do not deny that you need a bandage with which to apply it to the wound. Faith is the linen which binds the plaster of Christ's reconciliation to the sore of our sin. The linen does not heal; that is the work of the ointment. So faith does not heal; that is the work of the atonement of Christ. "But we must repent," cries another. Assuredly we must, and shall, for repentance is the first sign of healing; but the stripes of Jesus heal us, and not our repentance.
- Charles Spurgeon (Around the Wicket Gate)

Sunday, April 8, 2012

The God who is with us and for us

Remember the time when someone thanked you for doing something for them, and you said to them, "Oh it was nothing", and you really mean't it?

... Isn't that the most glorious feeling, when you realize you've actually done something for a person because you ARE FOR them, not out of obligation, not because it's required, but because you have acted in freedom? What you've done has been consistent with who you are. Who you are is consistent with what you've done.

... God is not in bondage. God is without boundaries. God acts freely. God always acts in a way that's consistent with who God really is, so that when we see that baby in the manger, we DON'T look in that manger and say:

"Wow, look what God did this time. Isn't that an interesting anecdote in God's life."

[No!] We look in that manger and we say:

"Hallelujah, this is who God is, a baby. One who has not only done things for us, but IS with us and for us."

-Dr. Cynthia Rigby
from a keynote address that can be found in its entirety: here

The quote above appears in the following snippet of the keynote address (6.5 min.):

mp3 file of snippet can be found: here